Skin tags are non-cancerous growths that typically do not cause problems or require treatment. However, skin tags that hang off the skin can be pesky and cause issues ranging from cosmetic concerns to discomfort. They might catch on a razor, clothing, jewelry, or bed linens, which can be uncomfortable. Skin tags affect, and are common in both men and women over the age of 50. They can appear all over the body, however, they are most commonly found in places where your skin folds. In this article, we discuss the causes of skin tags, as well as treatment and removal options.
Skin Tags (Acrochordons)
What is a skin tag?
Skin tags, also called acrochordons, are flesh-colored bumps of tissue that connect to the surface of the skin by a narrow stalk. Skin tags are made of loose collagen fibres and blood vessels surrounded by skin. It is important to note that skin tags are not a form of skin cancer. However, patients who have multiple skin tags should consider seeking medical advice, as they are at an elevated risk for:
- Crohn’s disease
- Colonic polyps
- Lipid disorders
- Acanthosis nigricans
What causes a skin tag?
For some people, developing skin tags is a genetic predisposition. Therefore, if your mom and or dad had or have these common benign skin growths, then you are more likely to get them.
Skin rubbing together also plays a role in the development of skin tags. For this reason, we tend to see them in folds/creases of skin, including the neck, armpits, eyelids, and around the groin. The more skin rubs in these areas, the more likely a skin tag will form. As a result, we frequently see them in well-nourished patients as well as patients with type 2 diabetes.
They can be of varying sizes from tiny little flecks like a grain of sand to as large as a fist. The best dermatologists know that just because it looks like a skin tag, it might not be. There are numerous other types of growths that can appear tag-like on the outer layer of the skin. These include warts and growths called seborrheic keratosis. Some moles can even look like a skin tag.
Skin Tag (Acrochordon) Treatment Options
While it can help to treat skin tags, most do not need treatment. For this reason, dermatologists and insurance providers consider skin tag treatment to be cosmetic. Although insurance companies used to cover treatment if it caused symptoms, they no longer do. Therefore, you can expect some out-of-pocket expenses with skin tag treatment. Treatment can cause discomfort or even bleeding.
How are skin tags removed?
Our dermatology providers are often asked about over-the-counter skin tag remedies. To date, we have not seen evidence that any of these treatments are effective. Some patients ask about tying a string around the skin tag to remove it. There are many risk factors involved in doing so, therefore we do not recommend patients try this at home. To avoid infection, scarring, and unnecessary pain, we recommend seeing a dermatologist.
The three best skin tag removal treatments include freezing, cauterizing, and snip excision. To freeze the skin tag, your dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen. If the skin tag is small, you will likely feel no more than a pinprick. However, if the skin tag is large, your dermatologist may use a numbing medication, such as an anesthetic cream, so you don’t feel it.
What to Know Before Removing a Skin Tag
When your dermatologist treats these growths, they will consider several different factors including size, location, and general health history. They will also consider whether or not you take any blood-thinning medications including but not limited to aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatories. If you have skin tags that you worry about or bother you, consider contacting the top Omaha dermatologists at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands to speak with a professional today.
Additional Information: 5 Reasons to See a Dermatologist for Mole, Skin Tag Removal (American Academy of Dermatology)
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